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National Group Cries Foul On Purdue Global Employee Nondisclosure Agreement

Purdue University Global logo (Purdue University)

A national association of college professors is raising concerns about rules for faculty at the recently-created Purdue Global, and says the online university is limiting the free speech and work of its faculty through a nondisclosure agreement.

This year marks the first for students and faculty in the newly-rebranded Purdue Global – the online school that resulted from Purdue buying the for-profit Kaplan University. The move was met with heavy criticism from Purdue faculty, and members of the public. 

But the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) says a nondisclosure agreement for Purdue Global employees crosses a line. It says employees can’t share many class materials – even with other Purdue Global employees, including course information, school policies and marketing practices.

Vice President of Indiana’s AAUP conference and Purdue Northwest professor David Nalbone says it limits the way faculty share items as simple as a class syllabus.

“And by extension it’s going to harm students, because if faculty are not free to do their job they might be delivering substandard academic quality,” he says.

Deb Nichols, a Purdue professor who co-chairs a committee scrutinizing Purdue Global, says signing such a document is not a requirement for faculty on the West Lafayette campus or at any other school where she’s taught.

Nalbone says it’s an unprecedented move for a public university.

“[Nondisclosure agreements] generally as we seem them are a creature of private corporations,” he says. “And there are reasons why private corporations need to protect their secrets – they’re in a competitive marketplace and so on.”

Nichols says she believes it sets up different requirements for Purdue faculty and for Global faculty as well, and raises questions about whether existing Purdue faculty can teach classes for global as Purdue President Mitch Daniels has indicated he wants to happen.

Nichols says her group will convene a series of meetings with Purdue Global leaders to discuss the issue.

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